After assaults on two women earlier this month by a taxi driver in Honolulu, HI, there are new concerns about safety. At issue is background checks done on cab drivers. According to police, the current city ordinance requires that background checks only go back two years. KHON2 in Honolulu reports that several owners of cab companies recently met with members of the Honolulu City Council at a hearing committee to discuss expanding background checks to more than two years.
The length of time a background check has to go back is clearly problematic for many people. In a follow up story to the assaults, KHON2 spoke with Howard Higa, president of The Cab, a taxi company that has over 800 drivers, and asked what requirements are necessary to work as a driver for the company. He responded that they needed a taxi license, insurance and a two year background check.
But Higa added that he would like to see this changed, “In my opinion, there are certain crimes or certain things that drivers have done in the past that should never be forgiven,” Higa said, “and I believe that the background checks should go further back … They should be five, maybe even 10 years.”
Cab companies want to expand the background checks, and some city council members are listening. Calling it a public safety concern, those council members say they will look into expanding background checks. While no resolution has yet been proposed, the subject will be discussed further at the next committee meeting.
It is expected that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will sign new “ban the box” legislation that will remove questions about criminal background history from employment applications. This would expand the state’s existing laws to affect private employers with 15 or more employees, and will also affect employment agencies.
Employers will still be able to conduct background checks, but they will be prohibited from asking about the applicant’s criminal background history until the job interview or when a conditional job offer has been made (if no interviews are conducted). If signed, the law will take effect on January 1, 2015.
As we have noted before, more states and communities are enacting “ban the box” legislation, and it continues to expand to include private employers. If Governor Quinn signs the bill, Illinois will become the fifth state to enact “ban the box” legislation that affects private employers.
In an update to our blog posted on March, 14, 2014, the city of Baltimore passed a new “ban the box” law that pertains to private employers. Here are the details:
Who does this law affect? Employers with 10 or more full-time equivalent employees. According to the article, “Employment” is defined broadly as “any work for pay” and “any form of vocational or educational training with or without pay.” Further, “employment” includes contractual, temporary, seasonal, or contingent work and work through the services of a temporary or other employment agency”.
What are the prohibitions? According to the National Law Review, the ordinance is broad, as employers are prohibited to obtain “any information in an application’s criminal background” until after making a conditional offer of employment. This means employers cannot ask any kind of question about the applicant’s criminal history or conduct a criminal background check before the conditional offer of employment.
When will it become effective? August 13, 2014
Although the law affects when employers can ask about an applicant’s criminal past, they are not prohibited from “making an employment decision based on an applicant’s criminal history” or from conducting background checks.
TV station WAND reported that an Illinois Senate committee voted 11-2 on May 14, 2014 to approve legislation that would prohibit private employers with more than 15 employees to ask about criminal history until after the applicant is determined to be qualified. HB5701 is sponsored by Democrat State Senator Tony Munoz from Chicago, and if passed, would take effect on January 1, 2015.
There are exclusions under the proposal, which include construction, emergency medical services and security-related businesses, as well as jobs that are mandated by law to require background checks.
In October 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed an administrative order that banned state employers from asking about criminal history on applications. The proposal would expand “ban the box” legislation to private employers.
New York City Council is considering a bill that would prohibit New York City employers from asking people about criminal histories on job applications. As part of the expanding “ban the box” movement, the bill would further the reach of current legislation, which prohibits the criminal history question from being on government application, and apply it to all employers.
Referred to as the “Fair Chance Act,” the bill would allow employers to ask about a criminal record only after making a job offer. The New York Daily News reports, “Employers could be hit with $1,000 in damages if they asked about an applicant’s criminal record too soon.” The bill would not affect jobs that require background checks.
Corporate Screening will continue to monitor “ban the box” legislation and will keep you informed of the latest news and updates. As a reminder, employer should regularly review hiring practices to ensure that they follow all local and state laws and guidelines. If you have any questions, our staff is available to assist you.
A recently proposed Senate bill would make it would make it easier for consumers to learn about and dispute errors in their credit reports. The Stop Errors in Credit Use and Reporting (SECURE) Act of 2014 would not only help consumers detect these errors, but it would also establish practices that Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA) would have to follow under the FCRA in order to ensure that the information contained in the reports is accurate, and would entitle consumers to a free copy of their credit report every 12 months.
Under the bill, when errors are discovered, CRAs would be required to gather and report information on disputes and their resolutions. The SECURE Act would also require the CFPB to establish minimum procedures that a CRA would need to follow to ensure the accuracy of consumer reports. CRAs would need to gather and report information on consumer disputes and resolutions when errors are caught.
The bill is still in early stages, but it is an important one for both consumers and credit reporting CRAs and bears watching. We invite you to read more about credit reports and checking yours by reading our January 15, 2014 blog post.